We’re now inside of three weeks away from the 2019 NFL Draft, this year held in Nashville, Tennessee. Teams are meeting with prospects, conducting interviews, and having private workouts. Today we take our first crack at a mock draft for the Arizona Cardinals. The team has areas of concern and must hit on this draft if new head coach Kliff Kingsbury is to turn Arizona around. This mock draft was done without trades and with the roster as of April 8, 2019.
Round 1 (1.1)
This is controversial only because it is not talked about. Based on needs and talent, Williams is a serious option at the top spot. Williams has the ability to play 3T in a 3-4 base set, then move inside in nickel packages. The Alabama product is explosive, has tremendous strength at the point of attack, and the instincts to make plays. Williams is an immediate upgrade along the line and will help against both the run and pass.
Other Options at Pick: Kyler Murray (QB, Oklahoma), Nick Bosa (Edge, Ohio State)
Round 2 (2.1)
Risner has been a riser among tackle prospects. After selecting defensive line with the first overall selection, the decision to keep quarterback Josh Rosen around for next season is apparently made. Rosen struggled behind a shoddy offensive line, often forced out of the pocket to keep plays alive. Risner is among the best tackle prospects, likely a late-first rounder come draft night. He could challenge D.J. Humphries for the starting left-tackle job, with the loser kicking over to the right side. Humphries is talented but often injured, putting pressure on the Cardinals to find a reliable option.
Other Options at Pick: Yodny Cajuste (OT, West Virginia), Kelvin Harmon (WR, NC State), Jonathan Abrams (S, Miss St)
Round 3 (3.1)
The quest for a replacement to Larry Fitzgerald continues. Arcega-Whiteside may not be on the same level of Fitzgerald and he isn’t as heralded as fellow prospects D.K. Metcalf or N’Keal Harry, but he is a talented receiver who can make plays. The Stanford receiver has displayed the ability to create separation with solid route running and technique. He is strong against press coverage and able to get off the line of scrimmage quickly. While lacking top-end speed, he has the quickness to move laterally while displaying some of the best hands of any receiving prospect this year. Arcega-Whiteside is a red-zone target the Cardinals offense will enjoy for years to come.
Other Options at Pick: Deionte Thompson (S, Alabama), Parris Campbell (WR, Ohio State), Drew Lock (QB, Mizzou)
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Round 4 (4.1)
Johnson is a lengthy corner who excels in man coverage. Arizona has searched for a permanent bookend to Patrick Peterson and can find it here in Johnson. The Houston product is a converted wide receiver whose best trait is his overall athleticism. Johnson would serve well behind Peterson and Robert Alford for a season to learn and adjust to the pro game. He has the talent to be a solid second option and one the Cardinals would love in an attacking defense.
Other Options at Pick: Riley Ridley (WR, Georgia), Gerald Willis (IDL, Miami), Damien Harris (RB, Alabama)
Round 5 (5.1)
Mack is the story of a high school standout who struggled to become a star player in college. However, the defensive tackle shows the flashes of talent which led to a five-star rating during the recruiting process. He is explosive off the snap and consistently gets movement up front. Mack would be 0T or 1T in base sets as he does lack consistency in getting to the passer. The Cardinals could view Mack as the next in line behind defensive tackle Corey Peters, while providing excellent depth and short-yardage assistance.
Other Options at Pick: Daniel Wise (IDL, Kansas), Dontavius Russell (IDL, Auburn), Terry Beckner (IDL, Mizzou)
Round 6 (6.1)
Renfrow is a legend in Clemson football. He was a big-game receiver who helped lead the Tigers to a pair of national championships, both of which came over Alabama. Renfrow has tremendous hands and is able to make difficult catches, especially on low passes. The Kingsbury offense thrives with receivers who can make plays after the catch, a specialty for Renfrow. Arizona lacked reliable pass catchers in 2018, making Renfrow all the more valuable to an offense looking to catch fire. After his career at Clemson, Renfrow should be familiar with playing at State Farm Stadium.
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Other Options at Pick: Preston Wilson (WR, Colorado St.) David Sills V (WR, West Virginia)
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Round 6 (6.6)
Willis is the second selection in the sixth-round for the Cardinals. While the defensive starters at safety seem set with Budda Baker and D.J. Swearinger, past seasons show the importance of quality depth. Willis is best used near the line of scrimmage, taking advantage of his ability against the run. He is an immediate contributor on special teams and can fight for the third safety spot on the depth chart.
Other Options at Pick: Delvon Randall (S, Temple), Gary Johnson (LB, Texas), Gardner Minshew (QB, Washington St)
Round 7 (7.34)
Seventh-round selections are typically used on flyers, guys who may not check all the boxes but who produced well in college or have athletic talent which can’t be ignored. Gilbert III is a high-upside linebacker who could prove to be a steal for the Cardinals. He operates best in space where he’s allowed to use his quick feet and burst. Gilbert III shows the ability to be effective in coverage but needs to grow his confidence when playing zone. Arizona could have another impact rookie on special teams, one who could blossom into a solid starter or backup on defense.
Other Options at Pick: Tyrel Dodson (LB, Texas A&M), Calvin Anderson (OT, Texas)
Round 7 (7.35)
New coaching staffs often use the later rounds of the draft to take players who may fit their system better, at non-need positions. Mattison would join a running back room already filled with incumbent David Johnson, second-year player Chase Edmonds, in addition to D.J. Foster and T.J. Logan. What makes Mattison an interesting prospect is his all-around ability out of the backfield. Mattison is a strong runner who can also be a solid contributor in the passing game. He has good technique and understands the position, making for an effective option as a three-down back.
Other Options at Pick: Tyrel Dodson (LB, Texas A&M), Calvin Anderson (OT, Texas)
Round 7 (7.40)
Mr. Irrelevant has a real shot to make the roster and develop into an effective receiving threat for the Cardinals. Doss has experience playing in the slot or split out wide. He is a big, strong receiver stands at 6’3″ and about 210 lbs. He is has tremendous ball skills and excels on vertical routes. Doss played against weaker competition in the FCS, but he was the dominant force one would expect from a talented receiver. He has above-average athleticism and definitely has a second-gear if given the space to run. Doss is a solid blocker who is not afraid of getting involved in the ground game. The step up in competition likely means development time is needed, but Doss is the type of player who would thrive under the tutelage of Larry Fitzgerald.
Other Options at Pick: John Ursua (WR, Hawaii)
This mock was going to be different from many others. The selection of Williams to start set the table for the rest of the selections. Williams fits the scheme perfectly, is arguably the best player available, and plays a position of need. Selecting Risner in the second round is about protecting your original investment in Josh Rosen and given his time in the Big-12 conference, Kliff Kingsbury should know how to best utilize the Kansas State tackle. The rest of the draft was dictated by weighting the best player available against pertinent needs on the roster. There was an eye towards depth as well as the future (Mack, Johnson). We’ll be back next week with our second Cardinals mock draft. Smart money says it won’t look anything like this.